October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and according to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes. However, men and women with disabilities will experience violence at even higher rates, which is even more alarming. In fact, people with disabilities are two to three times more likely to experience violent crime than people without disabilities.
This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, here are some things you should know about domestic violence and disabilities.
If You Are Experiencing or Have Experienced Abuse, You Are Not Alone
Unfortunately, many people experience domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Fortunately though, many people survive this abuse and you can too. If you ever feel alone, like you cannot escape, or like you deserve the abuse you’re experiencing, know that these thoughts are not true. You are not alone, you don’t deserve the abuse, and you can escape. With proper safety planning and help from others, there is hope. Please consider reaching out to a domestic abuse hotline to start figuring out your safety plan today.
Abuse is more than Physical Violence
Sometimes the abuse that people with disabilities experience is different than what you might think of when you think about “domestic violence.” Domestic violence does not just include physical violence like hitting. Domestic violence can include other forms of abuse including verbal abuse, financial abuse, or even abuse that is disability specific, such as refusing to allow you to have your wheelchair or refusing to give you the medications that you need. If you are being abused in any way, you don’t deserve it and you should seek help.
Domestic Violence is Rising Due to Coronavirus
Many states and countries are already reporting an increase in domestic violence incidents since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether a person is experiencing violence from an intimate partner, a parent, a personal care attendant, or someone else – no one should suffer in silence. There are local organizations and national hotlines that can help.
Organizations Receiving Federal Funding are Required to Be Accessible
If you’re hesitating to reach out for help because you think that the organizations offering domestic violence support services in your area will not be accessible to you, remember that any organization that receives federal funding must be accessible. Chances are the organization in your area receives federal dollars, so they should be accessible and if they’re not, you can ask them to become accessible.
If you want help but don’t know where to go to start, try the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.